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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Political Management: Government Deficit

Any elementary literature or mere common sense is good enough to tell us that when the expenses are within the revenues it results in surplus and its opposite, when expenses exceed revenues it results in deficit or shortage.

These days a large number of countries of our world are suffering from the fiscal or financial deficit. The responsible governments of these countries are obviously not able to manage the country's financial health. Either the revenue is not adequate enough to fully take care of the expenses or the expenses are way above the revenues.

Revenues are earned  for running the country's common programs that should benefit the citizens of that country. These common programs are: security and safety, health, education, justice, essential amenities, infrastructure, research, maintenance of common facilities etc. These common programs and people responsible for executing these programs (governmental employees and the contracted employees at all the levels including bureaucrats, ministers and politicians etc) use the revenues for this purpose. 

Revenues come from various means: professional fees, service charges, money earned from the organizations and companies directly run by the government, all kinds of taxes like income tax, sales tax, excise, customs duty, VAT, capital gains tax, wealth tax, vehicle/road tax and what have you.

Government cannot run a country properly if fiscal deficits become perennial. The top and senior officials of the government must take actions to get out of this kind of problem. So they take some actions that come obviously to their minds  (even a child will get those ideas) to cut down the expenditures. So they take some actions and the expedient ones are: 

1. Downsize the government employees at various levels (except at the senior and top levels i.e. the bureaucrats, ministers, politicians etc- we don't see them being fired).

2. Clamp the austerity measures on the government employees at various levels (except at the senior and top levels i.e. the bureaucrats, ministers, politicians etc- they keep continuing with their obnoxious king size/type pay packets and perquisites). 

The other expedient action is towards earning more revenues and the first idea that comes to the minds of the top and senior governmental officials (even a child will get that idea) is to increase the taxes (putting the whole burden of mismanaging the finances on the people).

And many of the so called financial geniuses and experts in the government try for both the above mentioned  expedient measures simultaneously troubling everyone around (except themselves).

The question to ask is: are these the only two measures available to tide over the fiscal deficit or fiscal cliff (or any other fancy name for it)? Can't the officials and politicians think of the following actions and implement them on the top most priority:

1. Stop and eliminate for ever the corruption at the top/senior levels and as a resultant at lower levels (the biggest drain on revenues). The huge chunk of revenues get siphoned off to the coffers of the corrupt governmental people at all the levels from top to bottom. Punish severely the people guilty of corruption. The severity of the punishment should set an example for others.

2. Stop and eliminate for ever the stashing of the unaccounted illegal black money by the unscrupulous people of the country in the foreign banks that allow such an atrocious activity. Bring this money back in the country and punish severely these unscrupulous people. The severity of the punishment should set an example for others.

3. Stop and eliminate for ever the practice of these foreign banks (in whichever countries they are) accepting the unaccounted black money from the unscrupulous people of the world. If they don't tow the line, the countries should boycott them.

4. Infuse effectiveness. efficiency and overall productivity and accountability in all the government and associated departments at every level of hierarchy. This is also one most important measure that must be implemented very seriously.

5. Stop and eliminate for ever the wastage of all kinds in all the government and associated departments. This is vital.

6. The salaries and perquisites of the top/senior level bureaucrats, ministers, politicians (members of parliament) should be controlled (that forms a big chunk of expenditure).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Forms of Government Other than Democracy: Dictatorship

Related Articles and Links
It is advisable to read the related articles at the links given below for better understanding of the subject:
In modern terms dictatorship is the major form of autocratic governments. In dictatorship the state is controlled or ruled by an individual called dictator. Absolute power rests with the dictator.
The power by a dictator is obtained by any one of the following ways:
1. Inherited as a family legacy.
2. Through force or coup often committed by head of the military of a state.
3. Handed over constitutionally to a person as in emergency in democratic system.
4. By suspending existing constitution after being handed over the office constitutionally and taking over as a dictator.
In dictatorship the power absolutely rests with the dictator unrestricted by law, constitution or other political or social considerations. There is no place of any opposition or public participation in dictatorship. It's exactly opposite of democracy. Individual ideology or often the tyranny of the dictator prevails.
Most the dictators have been notorious for their tyranny, power-mongering, greed and other idiosyncrasies. Dictators have been responsible for killing over 100 million people on earth.
Some of the notorious dictators we know: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Stalin (USSR), Hirohito (Japan), Mao (China), Kim II Sung (North Korea), Amin (Uganda), Hussein (Iraq), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Mubarak (Egypt).
While most of the dictators were infamous for their cruelty, the Italian revolutionary who became dictator of Sicily was quite popular ruler in Italy and accepted as such internationally. But this was an exception.
Most of the tyrannical dictators met their deaths unsung and in shame.
A large majority of the countries with dictatorship types of governments ruled by dictators are striving to abolish the dictatorship and moving to some other forms of governments, mostly the democracy i.e. peoples' government.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Forms of Government Other than Democracy: Communism

Communism is a social, economic and political system that is different from democracy, capitalism, dictatorship or monarchy.

The doctrine of communism was conceived by Karl Marx- a nineteenth century German scholar. It came to be known as Marxism. Later on Marxism was modified by other practitioners of communism. The prominent modifiers were: Vladimir Lenin of Soviet Russia (Marxism-Leninism), Mao Tse Tung of China (Maoism), Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia (Titoism) etc.

Communism majorly took its root in nineteenth century and then revolutions took place in twentieth century to establish governments guided by the communist thoughts. Soviet Union, People's Republic of China and Republic of Cuba were the early states to adopt communism. Communist governments took control in some more countries like Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania, North Korea etc.

Additionally, through democratic elections in some countries like Bolivia and Venezuela communism inspired governments got elected in twentieth and twenty first centuries.

As per Kark Marx, communism emerges and finally matures from the development of the productive forces that leads to a superabundance of material wealth, allowing for distribution based on need and social relations based on freely-associated individuals.

As per communism, the working class, referred to as the proletariat, is the main producer of wealth in society. In capitalistic model this working class is exploited by the capitalist class. Therefore, emphasis of communism is to establish a society without class divisions.

Communism thus ultimately aims at classless society.

Under communism, all property and all means of production are owned in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community rather than by individuals.

However, in practice, a single authoritarian and self-perpetuating political party controls both the political and economic systems.

So in practice, communism could not be implemented and established in its purest theoretical conceptualizations. Because of the way communism came to be practised its impact on improving socio-economic and political system was not promising enough.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union. His reforms brought in glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) and he relaxed government control. East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary abandoned communism by 1990. Soviet Union itself dissolved in 1991 and resultant Russia quit communism.

People's Republic of China also reassessed various aspects of the Maoist type of communism. as a result, in China, Laos and Vietnam the communist governments reduced their control on the economy facilitating a stimulus to economic growth. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping brought economic reforms in China. With such changes, China managed to bring down the poverty from 53% in the Mao era to 6% in 2001. China also established market led special economic zones free from government control.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forms of Government Other than Democracy: Monarchy

Monarchy is one of the earliest and ancient forms of government that existed in almost all the countries of the world prior to the relatively recent emergence of democracy, communism and military dictatorship etc as alternate systems of government.

Monarchy is rulership over a political entity (state or nation or a set of states or nations) by one individual (i.e. undivided sovereignty) who inherits his or her position by hereditary succession, is crowned and reigns for life (until death or abdication).

Ancient monarchies appear to have been elective originally but dynasties (hereditary succession) became customary in times to come.

The ruler is called a monarch or king (male) or queen (female). So monarchy is a government by a monarch.

People who were ruled were made to believe that the monarch exercised authority by the will of god rather than by the choice of the people.

Therefore, the powers of a monarch were unlimited- the monarchical absolutism. The 16th and 17th centuries mark the height of absolute monarchy. Its theoretical justification in the doctrine of divine right was exemplified by Henry VII and Henry VIII of England, Louis XIV of France and Catherine II of Russia.

Deification (considering that monarch was a god sent or was an agent of divine will) was general in ancient Egypt, Middle East and Asia and it was also practiced during certain periods in ancient Greece and Rome.

There were certain exceptions to monarchical absolutism e.g. Britain’s parliament was able to restrict the sovereign's freedom of action, particularly through the Magna Carta (1215) and the Bill of Rights (1689).

The Glorious Revolution in England (1688) and the French Revolution (1789) gave absolute monarchy a severe blow. World War I effectively destroyed what remained of it.

In some cases, the monarchy developed into the constitutional monarchy in Western Europe, though absolute (or near-absolute) monarchies continue to exist in Middle East. Notable constitutional monarchies include Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Thailand.

Currently, 44 nations in the world have monarchs as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth territories that recognize Queen/King of Great Britain as their head of state. The historical form of absolute monarchy is retained only in Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and Vatican City.

Over the past 200 years democratic self-government has been established and extended to such an extent that a true functioning monarchy is a rare occurrence in both East and West except for certain exceptions cited earlier.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Democracy: Definition and Explanation

Democracy (People's say)

Democracy is one of the forms or systems of government that any political or social organization can use for its governance.

In democracy all the people of a political or social organization, through various methods like consensus, referendum or elected representatives, exercise equal control and govern over the matters which affect their interests.

Democracy represents control of an organization by its members who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.

It is form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or through their freely elected representatives or agents, elected by the majority of people.

Peoples' representatives or agents are elected by the people through free electoral system involving periodically held free elections where every citizen should have the right to vote.

Thus it is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Democracy presents a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges, political or social equality- condition of classlessness and equality, absence of hereditary and class distinctions, decision making by consensus by majority people and democratic spirit.

Democracy is not instituted  in the same manner in all the democratic countries. In democracy too, there are many forms of government as given below:

1. Consociationalism
2. Deliberative democracy
3. Democratic socialism
4. Totalitarian democracy
    4.1 Dictatorship of the proletariat
5. Direct democracy
6. Egalitarianism
7. Futarchy
8. Open source governance
9. Participatory democracy
10. Representative democracy
      10.1 Parliamentary system
             10.1.1 Consensus government
             10.1.2 Westminster system
      10.2 Polyarchy
      10.3 Presidential system
      10.4 Semi-presidential system 

Forms of Government Other than  Democracy

1. Autocracy (Rule by one)
    1.1 Dictatorship Military dictatorship
          1.1.1 Stratocracy
          1.1.2 Despotis

    1.2 Kleptocracy
    1.3 Kritarchy
    1.4 Monarchy 

         1.4.1 Absolute monarchy
         1.4.2 Constitutional monarchy
         1.4.3 Duchy 

         1.4.4 Diarchy
         1.4.5 Enlightened absolutism
         1.4.6 Elective monarchy
         1.4.7 Hereditary monarchy
         1.4.8 Non-Sovereign Monarchy
         1.4.9 Popular monarchy
         1.4.10 Principality
         1.4.11 New Monarchs
         1.4.12 Self-proclaimed monarchy
         1.4.13 Regent
   1.5 Plutocracy 

         1.5.1 Timocracy
   1.6 Police state
   1.7 Theocracy
   1.8 Tyranny

2. Oligarchy (Rule by few) 

    2.1 Saeculum obscurum

3. Anarchy (Absence of organized government) 

    3.1 Ochlocracy
    3.2 Tribalism

4. Anarchism (Government of consent, not coercion) 

   4.1 Anarchist communism
   4.2 Libertarian socialism
   4.3 Libertarian municipalism
   4.4 Anarcho-capitalism
   4.5 Isocracy

5. Socialism 

    5.1 Socialist state
    5.2 Communist state
    5.3 Collective leadership
    5.4 State socialism

6. Fascism (Totalitarian single-party state) 

    6.1 National Socialism

7. Republic (The rule of law) 

    7.1 Constitutional republic
    7.2 Parliamentary republic
    7.3 Federal Republic

We will throw light on some of the above-mentioned forms of government in later posts.

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